Kansas Mental
Health Coalition

Legislature Works Toward Spring Break

April 01, 2014 3:19 PM | Anonymous

The Kansas Legislature is in its final week of the regular session and knee-deep in the development of a new K-12 budget proposal.   The Kansas Supreme Court issued a decision March 7, ordering the Legislature to address inequities in its education funding plan prior to July 1.  The Court ruled that cuts in State K-12 spending had resulted in unbalanced funding for wealthy and poor districts that is unconstitutional.  As a result, the House and Senate pulled back their K-12 education plans for re-shuffling.  

Advocates for other budget issues including behavioral health are waiting to see whether or not the education budget plans will run on their own, or if other budget issues will be rolled into a more traditional "mega-budget" bill.  It is likely these issues may be kept separate for now to avoid floor amendments that draw from one agencies budget to fund another.  Updated consensus revenue estimates are due during the legislative spring break, and the larger budget will likely wait for that information. 

Last week, the Governor stated that he expected the Legislature would be able to Last week, the Governor stated that he expected the Legislature would be able to resolve the K-12 funding issue by the end of this week, but that is looking like a very difficult goal at this point.

The development of Senate and House education plans have had some complications.  The House Appropriations Chairman introduced a plan last week that was quickly pulled back by the Speaker of the House.  Speaker Merrick stated that the leadership had not agreed to a plan that included charter school measures and released a plan without those provisions.

On Monday, Rep. Marc Rhoades quit as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee over disagreement with the Speaker regarding the education funding proposal.  Appropriations is considered the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives.

As a result, the Vice-Chair Rep. Gene Suellentrop (R-Wichita) moved into the Chair position and Rep. Marvin Kleeb (R-Overland Park) was appointed Vice-Chair.  The Appropriations Committee met most of the last two days and received public testimony on the new House education proposal.  Interestingly, there are Appropriations members who continue to show interest in including charter school policies in the funding bill. Democrats have expressed dismay that these budget bills are loaded with policy and should be heard by the Education Committees rather than budget committees.

"Drop Dead Day" is April 4 - the deadline for bills to be passed in the regular session.  The Legislature will adjourn for their spring break - when the Governor reviews and signs bills - and will return for the veto session on April 30.  The 90th day of the 2014 Legislative Session is May 15, but legislative leaders have indicated that they hope to wrap-up before then.  


(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4744, Topeka, KS  66604  785-969-1617

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